USC counselling undergraduate Lars Karlstroem moved from the other side of the world to complete a degree and establish a new home in a region he cannot see. But the independent, affable young Swede just chuckles when asked if he’s doing anything extraordinary:
“Well, people keep telling me I’m doing that. I know my family is proud of me, not only because I had the courage to even think about doing this, but because I had the motivation – through many setbacks – to actually continue and be doing well with my courses.
Some people identify themselves with their disability. They say ‘I can’t’ when in reality they’re saying ‘I won’t’. When I do the same, it’s really because I’m not motivated, or inclined to put much energy into it.”
Lars describes how he uses a positive and solution-based mindset “to rethink and say, ‘Well, why not? Let’s see if we can make this work.’”
He arrived at USC in mid-2014, spurred to return to Australia to study after a memorable Christmas vacation with his brother. He admits that the start was a bit overwhelming.
“I’d never studied at uni and although I was confident in English, it wasn’t my native language. Fortunately my dad flew down for two weeks to help me get settled. After he left, I initially had to rely on friends to go to the supermarket with me, and find the right share accommodation. But the Sunshine Coast culture is so open, and this uni arranges everything I need. I really like it. This uni does those small things really well. It looks at the person and what that person needs.”
Lars is also impressed by how friendly and helpful people are on campus. “It just happened today. I was walking outside D Block and a guy came up beside me and started chatting. He asked if I needed help and I didn’t, though a bit more tactile paving might be beneficial. But since we were heading the same way, it was easier for me to just borrow his arm. It’s not uncommon to hear, ‘Hey mate, how are you doing?’”